Morris from America

Morris from America ★★★★

Note: This one isn't out until August, but Chicago can see it at the Chicago Film Critics Festival on May 20, with the director and star Craig Robinson in attendance for a Q&A. Which is why I saw it so early.

This film is such a charmer, and such a surprise. It's a slice-of-life movie with a little coming-of-age action about a transplanted black kid growing up in Germany with his dad (Craig Robinson). It acknowledges racism and stereotypes, in a gentle but pervasive sort of way, but mostly it's about a 13-year-old's relationship with a country where he doesn't fit in in a lot of ways, and how he navigates his first real crush. There are things here familiar from other adolescent-life movies, about dealing with bullies, and learning to fit in vs. establishing an identity, and the attempt to grow up too fast because it feels like real fun is just a few years of growth away. But the film acknowledges them in ways that feel fresh and specific, and the performances are particularly fine.

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